Mar 13, 2015

[Movies] Toy Story 2 (1999)

I think I'm just about done with my recap of the various Pixar movies that have been released over the years. Admittedly I haven't seen some of the more recent sequels like Cars 2 or Monsters University, but I'll get around to them soon enough. But you know how sequels are - it's hard to get all that excited.

Toy Story 2 represents the first sequel that Pixar ever created, and it's of no surprise that they chose to go back to their roots and build on the success of the first Toy Story movie. And while sequels often feel like cheap attempts to recreate past successes when it comes to most movies, Pixar certainly demonstrated that there was still plenty of good story left in this particular world.

And the first Toy Story was pretty hilarious on its own and I didn't think things could get any better. But man, this movie really expanded things in interesting directions and managed to find new ways to push the humor and really develop these characters. And what this movie really did was turn a great movie into a brilliant franchise.

Synopsis: Toy Story 2 is a 1999 animated comedy movie directed by John Lasseter together with co-directors Lee Unkrich and Ash Brannon. The screnplay was written by Andrew Stanton, Risa Hsiao, Doug Chamberlin, and Chris Webb.

Young Andy (John Morris) is all set to go to cowboy camp with his trusty cowboy doll Woody (Tom Hanks), but in his excitement he accidentally rips off Woody's arm almost entirely. Given the state he's in, Andy opts to leave him behind and he ends up on the shelf for storage. A garage sale of Andy's old toys leads to Woody trying to rescue an old toy, Wheezy (Joe Ranft) results in Woody being snagged by a toy collector.

Immediately Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and the rest of toys try to figure out how to rescue him. And their first clue is managing to figure out who had stolen him - Al McWhiggin (Wayne Knight), who owns a toy store known as Al's Toy Barn. It turns out that he has been eagerly trying to collection merchandise from the 1950's show that Woody's character was derived from. And there he meets Jessie (Joan Cusack), Bullseye (Frank Welker), and Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammer), other toys based on the characters from the show. And this leads to him having second thoughts about whether or not he should still go home.

First, the movie had quite the complex story that actually made me feel a little guilty as an adult toy collector. The movie does sort of hit close to home for folks who just collect toys and try to treat them as precious commodities meant for sale instead of moments of childhood meant to celebrate the life of a child. If it's any consolation, I still play with my toys. So I should feel less guilty, right?

The somber stuff aside, the movie is brilliantly funny. There are so many great moments in this movie, especially when the toys finally head over to the toy store. It was funny enough to deal with the toys in Andy's house. But when you get to the store and the multiple copies of so many different toys and you end up with some amazingly hilarious sequences.

The best moments really involve Buzz Lightyear and his many copies and eventually a toy version of his big bad nemesis, Zurg (Andrew Stanton). This added a ridiculous little side-plot to things that totally worked out in a comedic sense. And while you could argue that these were just isolated moments in the movie, I still think everything came together quite nicely. And managing to hit those comedic beats so consistently is quite a feat in itself.

It's hard to determine whether or not this movie was as good as or even better than the first movie. It's sort of its own animal with a slightly more complex plot but a larger share of funny bits and what could practically be comedy sketches. Just think about the aforementioned moment with Zurg or even the Barbie-related moment in the middle of everything.

Toy Story 2 is quite the classic in itself and it added a generous mix of characters to Toy Story family. It's a nice demonstration that a movie series can have good sequels despite how a lot of other franchises tend to fail. Thus this movie gets a good 4.5 crazy toys at the toy barn out of a possible 5.


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